Sometimes, Google isn’t the best way to find what you want. If you’re looking to download something via BitTorrent, you’re better off using a search engine dedicated to finding, organizing, and downloading torrents. But there are a lot of torrent sites out there, with constantly changing names and URLs, so it can be hard to know where to start.
Many of these BitTorrent sites operate in shadier corners of the internet—which makes sense, since BitTorrent is heavily used for piracy and porn. But that means they’re often ugly, filled with ads, spied on by outside entities, and they may even include torrents with malware or other nefarious files. So do not treat these search engines like you would any other webpage—you need to be careful.
That said, as “public” sites, they also have a huge amount of active users, meaning you can probably find what you’re looking for, even if it’s obscure or hard to find through normal channels. (There are also private torrent sites with small, tight-knit communities you need to be invited to, but that’s a topic for another article.) If you’re going to browse public torrent sites, we highly recommend having a malware scanner with real-time protection, such as MalwareBytes Premium, which can help protect you from malicious ads and downloads. You should also have a good VPN if you want to hide your activity from prying eyes—or if any of these sites are blocked by your ISP, which does happen. Some BitTorrent clients may claim to offer built-in security, but we recommend using third-party software.
Keep in mind that these sites can change domains from time to time, so it’s always a good idea to check around the web and make sure your bookmarks are up to date.
Finally, note that PCMag does not condone piracy. If you use BitTorrent for sketchy purposes, you’re on your own when it comes to dealing with whatever consequences there might be.
Classic for a Reason: The Pirate Bay
Now over 15 years old, The Pirate Bay
(commonly abbreviated TPB) is still the most popular torrent site around—(at least in terms of Alexa ranking
. That means they have a lot of users and a wide selection of torrents. You can subscribe to RSS feeds for automatic downloading, see a ton of info about individual torrents, and read comments from other users who sometimes point out stuff that the description skips (not to mention call out fake torrents with malware). Plus, pink and green skull icons indicate trusted and VIP users, which can help verify a torrent’s worth. The Pirate Bay does not actually host torrent files anymore; instead, each entry contains a magnet link that you can click to open the download directly in your torrent client. It’s a little ad-heavy, and the pop-ups when you click on non-ad portions of the page are particularly annoying, but there’s a reason it’s still #1.
A Well-Designed Site With a Library View: 1337x
Take a look at 1337x
, and you might be surprised it’s a torrent search engine. It’s much better looking than its competitors, and while you can use it to search for individual torrents just as you can with any other engine, it also has “libraries” that let you browse a beautiful grid of thumbnails for movies and TV shows, complete with star ratings, descriptions, and a list of torrents related to that title. Individual torrents have their info laid out in an attractive tab-based interface that lets you see screenshots (if the torrent contains a video file), comments, and more. The constant ads and notification requests can be annoying, but the site itself is so well laid out that it may temper your anger enough to keep you coming back.
A Quality Selection That’s Easy to Browse: RARBG
may not be quite as attractive as 1337x, but it’s still decently organized as far as BitTorrent search engines go. When you search for something, you’ll get detailed results with icons that show you the torrent’s category, so you can easily see which results are what you’re looking for (say, movies) and which ones are unrelated (like music, or…other stuff). Clicking on a result shows related torrents, screenshots (if the torrent contains a video), and even a trailer and IMDB rating, when they exist. RARBG is generally best for new torrents, so if you’re looking for something old, obscure, or hard to find, it’s probably not your best bet. But for quality versions of recently uploaded torrents, RARBG is a good place to stop by, despite the occasional pop-up ad.
A Bit More Work, But Worth It: RuTracker
If you’re willing to jump through a few extra hoops, RuTracker
is a longtime torrent-sharing forum that is still quite popular among those in the know. However, most of the site is in Russian, which means you’ll have to use a page translation tool to find your way around. In addition, certain files may require an account for downloading, but it’s free and easy to sign up, and with an active community and heavy moderation, the selection is large without having quite as much malware and fake torrents as other sites. You should, however, take the same precautions you would with any other torrent site.
Up and Coming: Zooqle
is newer than some of the other sites on this list, but it’s made a name for itself for its large selection, despite its youth. The home page boasts over 4.3 million verified torrents at the time of this writing. While it isn’t the prettiest site around, it does organize torrents well, making it easy to see what’s new, search by video quality, browse an entire series, or subscribe via RSS. It may not be most people’s first stop, but it’s definitely a site to watch, as it’s likely to grow in popularity.
Torrent With a VPN!
It’s an excellent idea to use a VPN service while BitTorrenting, so that your activity is not visible to your ISP. Which service should you use? Read our roundup of the Best VPNs for BitTorrent
to find out.
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